St. Petersburg-based, global manufacturing solutions provider Jabil recently acquired a market leader in electronic component recovery and authenticity testing that will boost companies’ and customers’ environmental sustainability efforts.
For over 30 years, Scotland-based Retronix has offered innovative solutions that allow manufacturers to reuse and recycle electronic components. The deal, announced Nov. 6, adds its exclusive technologies to Jabil’s portfolio while maintaining security, quality and certification standards.
The two companies work with prominent names in the defense, telecommunications, automotive and healthcare industries. Jed Pecchioli, vice president of supply chain, said Jabil and Retronix also share a common goal of maximizing component life and reducing electronic waste.
“When we originally got into this, we were looking at it as a test-house capability,” Pecchioli said. “A lot to do with the chip shortage market because they have component authenticity testing. And then it started rolling into the sustainability thing – what’s that look like?”
Jabil did not disclose the deal’s terms.
Pecchioli noted that Retronix’s core offerings began in the air defense industry. It then began serving several other market segments and became a valuable commodity during recent microchip and processor shortages.
Jabil’s headquarters sit just across the bay from MacDill Air Force Base and U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM). That proximity didn’t factor into the largest publicly-traded company in Tampa Bay’s acquisition, but Pecchioli said, “As we move forward with this, it might be a play to that and bring value there.”
He said many air defense customers require specific certifications and network security, and the addition of Retronix could prevent outsourcing. It could also lead to new employment opportunities in St. Petersburg.
“We’re just in the beginning phases of that,” Pecchioli said. “We just started looking at that as an option. That can be a local value.”
A circular economy is a manufacturing system based on reusing and regenerating materials or products. It promotes sustainability by minimizing waste.
Retronix offers its unique Laser Reballing service, which mitigates potential damage to electronic components by reducing thermal stress during reuse efforts. Pecchioli noted that many tech manufacturers needed unavailable parts during the microchip shortage.
In addition, some of the components are obsolete, a common problem with aging military aircraft. Pecchioli said Retronix pulls usable parts off circuit board “bone piles,” refurbishes the former electronic waste and completes necessary authenticity and operational testing.
He said recycling components became “taboo” several years ago due to a preponderance of counterfeit products that can damage electronic systems. Pecchioli believes Retronix’s traceability and certification efforts alleviate that fear.
“We know they’re good parts, but we’re not using them,” he added. “How do we use these to … help with the circular economy and/or sustainability for long-term designs?”
Pecchioli said the ability to reuse circuit boards missing a key component would mitigate future supply chain issues. He also believes those constraints will increase market acceptance of refurbished products.
In a prepared statement, Frank McKay, Jabil chief procurement and supply chain officer, said the acquisition underscores a commitment to the company’s and its customers’ environmental initiatives. He said Jabil “feels a strong sense of responsibility to not just support sustainability for ourselves, but to shepherd our customers towards decarbonization solutions like this – the reuse and recycling of electronic components.”
Jabil has grown from a local manufacturing solutions provider to employing over 250,000 people across 100 offices in 30 countries. Pecchioli, a St. Pete resident, said he joined the company due to a positive atmosphere and culture that spans from Tampa Bay to China.
“I would say it’s a centerpiece for St. Pete, and we’re proud to be here,” Pecchioli added. “But I think overall, we’re proud of the whole global culture that we built. The leadership here thinks of the people; all the volunteering – I wouldn’t have joined any other company.”